How do I participate?
In answer to the question: What is going on now?, a number of resources including the public comment webpage, ICANN blog, and meetings sites were listed.
Each of these pages also allow for direct and immediate interaction into ICANN's processes. Each public comment box provide a clickable email address where your comments will be sent straight through the public comment forum. All comments made will be reviewed by ICANN staff and included in a summary/analysis at the close of the forum. That summary will then be provided to the body in question and that body will be asked to explicitly refer to it during subsequent discussions.
The blog allows any individual to make their point in response to a posting direct to the author and the organisation - and in most cases receive a quick response. So if you wish to make a point or draw ICANN's attention to something you think it may have missed this is a direct route into the process.
If you would prefer to make your point in the real world, then the ICANN meetings are free and open to all. At each ICANN meeting, there is a Public Forum session that is specifically set aside for anyone that wishes to raise a point by walking up to the microphone and talking directly to Board members and to the rest of the ICANN Community. The vast majority of the other meetings are also open, and often welcome new and interested members.
The Fellowship Program provides a grant of support for up to 50 individuals per ICANN meeting. Successful candidates are members of the Internet community who have met the program's minimum requirements as determined by an independent committee. For more details on this program and how to apply, go here.
You needn't even physically be at a meeting in order to have your voice heard. Each meeting has its own interactive website that provides a separate webpage for each session during the meeting week. These pages contain the relevance links for all the remote participation services provided including presentations, audio, video streams and live transcriptions (if available). During public meetings that are also open for comments, comments and questions from remote participants are reviewed by someone in the chat room and are read out to the meeting as a whole.
Supporting organisations and advisory committees
If you wish to get more deeply involved in drawing up documents, rather than commenting on the results of others' work, the solution is to join one of ICANN's supporting organisations or advisory committees.
There are a number of organisations and committees (the full structure is here), and you can join whichever most relates to your input - whether as an ISP, a non-commercial company, or just a member of the public. Other members will help explain how ICANN works and how to make the most of your input.
There are three Supporting Organizations and four Advisory Committees, each is explained below with links to their websites where you can find out more about how to join:
GENERIC NAMES SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION (GNSO)
The GNSO is the main policy-making body of ICANN and comprises of four main groups: registries (companies running generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as VeriSign for dot-com or Afilias for dot-info); registrars (companies that sell registrations of particular domains e.g. icann.org); commercial users of the Internet; and non-commercial users of the Internet.
The GNSO is currently undergoing significant change following an extensive independent review process. As such the information presented below is liable to change and you should check the GNSO website for the latest information on which body is most suitable for you to join.
Commercial and Business Users Constituency (external site)
The business constituency is the voice of commercial Internet users within ICANN. You can find out more about how to join on the constituency's website, where you can also follow its work. Membership fees apply, ranging from €160 to €1,000 in 2009.
Non-Commercial Users Constituency (external site)
The Noncommercial Users Constituency is the home for civil society organizations and individuals in ICANN's GNSO. NCUC advocates positions on gTLD-related issues that protect and support noncommercial communication and activity on the Internet. Among its key areas of interest are human rights, freedom of expression, privacy, access to knowledge, diversity and consumer choice, development, and global internet governance. Membership is free of charge, and noncommercial organizations and individuals can fill in an application to join on its website.
Not-for-Profit Operational Concerns Constituency (NPOC) (external site)
NPOC represents the operational concerns related to service delivery of not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations within ICANN. NPOC welcomes members who are not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations. These organizations can join NPOC by either completing the online Noncommercial Stakeholders Group (NCSG) membership form or completing the NPOC application form.
gTLD Registries Constituency (external site)
The registries constituency represents those running gTLD registries. You have to be a registry under contract with ICANN to join and members meet bi-weekly.
Registrars Constituency (external site)
The registrars constituency represents companies that register domains for Internet users for a fee. You have to be an ICANN-accredited registrar to join. There is annual membership fee of $500 (as of August 2009). More details on how to join are on the constituency's website.
Intellectual Property Constituency (external site)
The IPC represents intellectual property interests within ICANN. To join you can be either an international or national intellectual property organization, a company with a demonstrated interest in intellectual property issues, or an individual with a demonstrated interest in the protection of intellectual property. Each group has its own application form and fees vary from $75 to $900 (as of August 2009) depending on which group you belong to.
Internet Service and Connection Providers Constituency (external site)
The ISPCP represents Internet service providers and connectivity providers and you must be an ISP or connectivity provider as well as agreement to participate regularly within the ISPCP. Applicants send the secretariat an email outlining their credentials. Statements, notes and meeting minutes can all be found on the ISPCP's website.
AT LARGE ADVISORY COMMITTEE (ALAC)
The ALAC is the body that represents the interests of individual Internet users within ICANN.
Global users are represented through small self-forming groups called At Large Structures (ALSes) who are themselves part of Regional At Large Organizations (RALOs).
Any group that supports individuals' ability to share their views on ICANN issues, and that meets a few criteria can register to be an At-Large Structure. Examples include: professional societies; academic and research organizations; community networking groups; consumer advocacy groups; Internet Society chapters; Computer user organizations and Internet civil society groups. There is no application or membership fee.
More information on the application process, including downloadable application forms can be found on the At Large website.
The RALOs also have their own regional websites (external sites):
Africa | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Latin America | North America
COUNTRY CODE NAMES SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION (ccNSO)
The ccNSO represents the managers of country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) such as Britain's dot-uk registry or Germany's dot-de registry. You have to be a ccTLD manager to join. If you are, an online application form is available. Membership is free. You can follow the ccNSO's work through its website, for example through its Council minutes.
GOVERNMENTAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE (GAC)
The GAC represents governments and governmental organizations. You need to be a formally acknowledged representative of a government or interational organization to become a member. You can email the GAC's secretariat for more information.
ADDRESS SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION (ASO)
The ASO represents the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) - companies that oversee the allocation of Internet number resources in particular geographic regions. You would need to be an RIR to join the ASO, however you can follow their work online through its mailing lists.
SECURITY AND STABILITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE (SSAC)
The SSAC advises the ICANN community and Board on matters relating to the security and integrity of the Internet's naming and address allocation systems. It is an invited-members-only organization. The SSAC produces reports and advisories on technical aspects of the Internet's security and stability.
If you care about the Internet and how it evolves, your voice will only be heard if you get involved, so please do take advantage of the different ways there are to interact with ICANN. We look forward to seeing you.